I’m not 100% sure, but I think that Black Panther: World of Wakanda is the first comic that I’ve read in my adult life. It is, without a doubt, the first comic that I’ve read in a long, long time. I picked up this prequel to the Black Panther series when I was browsing at the delightful White Square Books in my new hometown. Despite working in another bookstore, I am incapable of leaving a good bookstore without a purchase, so I decided to give this a go. I chose World of Wakanda for various reasons, but mostly because I like to vote with my pocketbook: I wanted to support the efforts of Roxane Gay and Ta-Nehisi Coates. I also figured that reading a comic prequel would put me in good stead for watching the forthcoming Black Panther movie when the film is released.
Alas, the book was not for me, but I rush to add that I think it’s more to do with my inexperience with the comic book world and my general lack of enthusiasm for super heroes in general*. Although in retrospect it should have been obvious, I should have expected that disjointed feel going into my reading, since it’s actually the bound copy of the first six issues printed together. Naturally that would result in large jumps in time, locale, and character for each issue, but the lack of cohesion really threw me off. Also, the entire thing is written in ALL CAPS. This was hard to read, and I’d love for someone to enlighten me: is this a typical thing in comics? It drove me batty. On an even pettier level, the grammatical errors distracted me out of the story every single time.
All of that being said, in no way do I regret my purchase, as I am happy to support this franchise and the much-needed diversity it brings to the world of Marvel comics. Moreover, I dug the story of the Dora Milaje, the fierce warrior women of Wakanda, sworn to protect the royal family, who evolve into something more, and I really dug the love story between Captain Aneka and Ayo.
If you read comics of the super hero variety, and particularly if you’re interested in supporting diversity in a field that has for too long been dominated by white cis-male characters and readers alike, you’d probably like this.
Full list of authors and illustrators: Roxane Gay, Ta-Nehisi Coates, Yona Harvey, Rembert Brown, Alitha Martinez, Roberto Poggi, Rachelle Rosenberg, Afua Richardson, Tamra Bonvilain, Joe Bennett, Rahzzah, and Joe Sabino
* I felt the same way about watching last year’s Wonder Woman film. Super glad I voted with my pocketbook to show the powers that be that it’s important for super heroes to reflect more than the white boys who grow up to be heroes. And I loved the first half of the movie. But like with any super hero story, I quickly grew weary of the ever-increasing unbelievability of the exploits.